Elon Musk, others call for pause on AI systems

Over 1,000 experts, including industry executives, academics, and technology specialists, have signed an open letter calling for a pause on large, open experiments with artificial intelligence (AI) for at least six months. The letter warns that the development and deployment of increasingly powerful digital minds by AI research companies is out of control and needs to be regulated to avoid apocalyptic scenarios. The signatories warn of the risk of creating non-human minds that could potentially outsmart, outnumber, and replace humans, causing a loss of control over civilisation. The letter calls for a moratorium if a pause cannot be enacted quickly.

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and IBM chief scientist Grady Booch are among the signatories of the letter. The signatories include academics such as Stuart Russell, the head of the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence, and Hebrew University of Jerusalem historian Yuval Noah Harari. The letter emphasises the need for elected officials to take responsibility for regulating the industry and not delegate decision-making to unelected tech leaders.

While AI technology is rapidly growing in popularity and capability, industry watchdogs have warned that companies deploying it are not considering the broader consequences. Tech giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Snapchat have incorporated AI technology into their platforms, and consumers are using AI applications like ChatGPT, which uses language fluently but struggles with accuracy. 

However, ethicists have criticised the letter for focusing on theoretical, eventual harms from AI, and failing to address concerns with the industry’s current state. These concerns include potential market dominance by companies like Google and Microsoft, mass unemployment of creative workers, and companies overhyping the capabilities of their products. The Federal Trade Commission recently warned existing AI companies against making potentially false claims about their products.

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